Monday, March 24, 2014

Art in the Park 2014

Yesterday, I was at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati for this year's Art in the Park. Art in the Park is the annual gathering of the country's best galleries for an affordable art fair, capping the price for artworks at P30,000.

The art fair is set in a public park to make it more accessible to everyone. This is Art in the Park's eight run.

Most of the artworks I saw were priced way below P30,000. The ones I liked cost P5,000, P15,000, and P16,000, but I have plans of commissioning artworks from my artist friends.

The turnout this year was bigger than its previous runs in 2012 and 2013. This year, there were more than 50 booths and it extended to the parking lot of the venue. It was way more crowded this year, too, and though I hate crowds, I'm happy because it means more people are getting interested in art.

I wasn't able to take a lot of pictures because of the large crowd, but I was fortunate enough to have picked up some stuff along the way. I think 'along the way' is an accurate description of how I navigated through Art in the Park. There were parts where it was hard to appreciate the pieces because of the human traffic. Perhaps Trickie Lopa and the team are interested in getting a bigger venue?

My boyfriend and I got matching portraits done by Apol Sta. Maria. He was sharing a table with Rob Cham and theirs was one of the most high-traffic areas in the art fair. No wonder, because Apol was drawing free portraits and Rob was selling his comics.

According to Apol, he can draw you in less than three minutes. I wasn't able to confirm because Mylene Dizon appeared out of nowhere and started talking to everyone. She was absolutely charming.

I also got a copy of Apol's A Balut Ate My Luois Vuitton and Rob's Stories. The two artists have a very distinct sense of humor and style, and both comics were absolutely hilarious.

I also got some of Mano Gonzales's postcards. I've been meaning to get them from him since December, but things keep coming up. We finally met after three months of talking online. I'm also planning to have a few portraits commissioned from him because I like his style and it fits with the decor I'm planning for my room. It's taking a while because I can't decide what to have him illustrate. There are so many designs running through my head that I might just end up having him put everything in a single canvas.

My favorite artwork has to be Bale Dutung's pan de bagnet. It's slices of crispy bagnet  and KBL (kamatis, bagoong, and lasuna) on slow-toasted ciabatta bread. The bread keeps the juices in so it explodes with every bite. It was so delicious.

I've actually wanted to try Claude Tayag's pan de bagnet since I started covering Art in the Park two years ago for The Philippine Star. However, I always go right after lunch so I'm full by the time I get there. I made it a point to eat a little before going yesterday. I was so hungry by the time I got there that I started seeing slices of bagnet in every artwork I saw.

My boyfriend isn't into art, but I managed to convince him to come with me. He ended up buying some pins and magnets. This one is my favorite.

I hope more people could come next year. And I hope the organizers could get a bigger venue. Maybe Ayala Triangle?

My features on Art in the Park for The Philippine Star can be found here, here, and here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

2014 Book #6: FLAMES and Other Stories

FLAMES and Other Stories, Angelo R. Lacuesta
The sleeves of his sweater are tied around his neck. He wears a scowl to protect his eyes from the sun. The shadows of the afternoon show his high cheekbones, his sharp nose. I have just met him here, I think, and we have just sneaked a cigarette, one of many in my youth.

2014: Book #5: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
And then it filled up with people and another train came with the same roaring. And it was exactly like having flu that time because I wanted it to stop, like you can just pull the plug of a computer out of the wall if it crashes, because I wanted to go to sleep so that I wouldn’t have to think because the only thing I could think was how much it hurt because there was no room for anything else in my head, but I couldn’t go to sleep and I just had to sit there and there was nothing to do except to wait and to hurt.

Full Gallop.

I was lucky to be invited to the press preview of My Own Mann's production of Full Gallop, the one woman-play focusing on the life of famed Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. The play is written by Mary Louise Wilson and Mark Hampton, and is set after her firing at Vogue, where she throws a dinner party in the hopes a wealthy guest will finance a magazine of her own. The inimitable Cherie Gil will take on the daunting task of portraying Vreeland.

Diana at her famous apartment, which she calls a garden in hell

The set of Full Gallop

Vreeland is one of fashion’s biggest icons, bringing a fresh and outrageous take to the industry. When she was at Harper’s Bazaar, Vreeland popularized a column called “Why Don’t You?” a list of outrageous suggestions for readers. Some famous examples are “Why don’t you turn your child into an Infanta for a fancy-dress party?” and “Why don’t you wash your blond child’s hair in dead champagne?” She took fashion so seriously that her fashion shoots were set around the world with elaborate and expensive looks.

Vreeland with Richard Avedon, with whom she would bring to Vogue after her stint at Harper's Bazaar. At her wake, Avedon said, "I went back to Carmel Snow and said ‘I can't work with that woman. She calls me Aberdeen.' And Carmel Snow said, 'You're going to work with her.' And I did, to my enormous benefit, for almost 40 years."

At Vogue, she educated readers through travel, using her lavish editorials set in Tahiti, Bali, and other exotic locales. She was fired in 1971, presumably because her shoots were expensive, one of which was estimated to have cost $1 million.

Vreeland at work

Vreeland discussing a project with Truman Capote

And Vreeland is a character. Her razor wit and penchant for storytelling is inspiring, especially so because her stories are peppered with her travels, odd experiences (like seeing a car with gorillas in tailored suits), and thoughts on color, shade, and beauty. Despite being a fashion icon, Diana doesn't seem to be obsessed with the field. Instead, she talks much about living life. She once quipped, "It's not about the dress you wear, but it's about the life you lead in the dress."

Cherie Gil as Diana Vreeland

Cherie Gil lends herself well as Vreeland. She tastefully portrays the Vogue editor without resorting to caricature. Gil said so herself, after the preview, that she wanted to capture the essence of Vreeland rather than mimic her.

Gil gives a breathtaking performance, and at times touching. Only Gil could successfully bring to life a woman known for her vivacity, then switch to poignancy, and then haughty humor.

Full Gallop only has a limited run, and will be having its last two performances this week. I really hope people could go out and support Gil's marvelous performance as "the one and only fashion editor." Full Gallop will be staged at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza. Tickets may be bought at Ticketworld.

Here is my complete review on When In Manila.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 Book #4: Imperial Bedrooms

Imperial Bedrooms is the 2010 sequel to Bret Easton Ellis's runaway hit and first book, Less Than Zero. In Imperial Bedrooms, we follow the lives of Clay, Julian, Blair, and their friends as Clay comes back to LA after spending time in New York as a screenwriter. The nihilistic teenage misfits of Less Than Zero are back as middle-aged, married savages. Unfortunately, it does not live up to the brilliance of its source, and Imperial Bedrooms can sometimes feel tedious and pointless. And not in the good Bret Easton Ellis kind of way.

"They had made a movie about us. The movie was based on a book written by someone we knew. The book was a simple thing about four weeks in the city we grew up in and for the most part was an accurate portrayal. It was labeled fiction but only a few details had been altered and our names weren't changed and there was nothing in it that hadn't happened."

Monday, March 10, 2014

Repertory Philippines' August: Osage County

I recently got to catch Repertory Philippines' production of August: Osage County. It's a local run of the hit play that started in Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago in 2007. By the end of the year, it was staged on Broadway for two years, closing its run with 648 performances and 18 previews. It received many nominations from prestigious theater organizations, winning five Tony awards, three Drama Desk awards, and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for playwright Tracy Letts.

Last year, it was adapted to the big screen by John Well, with the script written by Letts himself. It stars Meryl Streep, who I'm sure rocked her role as Violet Weston. The film was nominated for two Oscars: Best Actress for Streep and Best Supporting Actress for Julia Roberts.

The controversial Weston girls

August: Osage County is the story of the Westons, whose patriarch, Beverly Weston mysteriously disappears. The family gathers together at their farmhouse in Oklahoma hoping for news, and while waiting, dig up family drama that would put any dysfunctional family to shame. Because of its intricate plot and family issues, I made a cheat sheet of the major characters and their personal issues for my feature in When In Manila:

  • Violet Weston: the imperial grand dame of the family. A loud, brash, and aggressive woman who is addicted to painkillers. Suffers from what her husband called the joke’s punchline: oral cancer.
  • Barbara Fordham: the eldest daughter of Beverly and Violet. She is a caring yet controlling woman whose marriage is slowly disintegrating. Her husband Bill is having an affair with one of his students, but he is there to support his wife. Their daughter Jean is an adolescent with growing pains (and a predilection for pot).
  • Ivy Weston: the Westons’ middle child. She is the cool, calm, and collected type, often interrogated for still being single at 44. She is, in fact, in a secret relationship, with someone she shouldn’t be having a relationship with.
  • Karen Weston: the youngest Weston child. She is carefree and hedonistic, and is engaged to a sleazy man named Steve who has his own predilections.
  • Mattie Fae Aiken: Violet’s sister. Is as loud and brash as her sister. Constantly antagonizes her husband Charlie and their son Little Charlie, who they call a “screw-up.”
  • Johnna Monevata: the Cheyenne woman Beverly hires to watch over Violet and the household. May be the only sane soul in the Weston farmhouse.

Sheila Francisco and Pinky Amador were the highlights of August: Osage County

Rep's August: Osage County was a brilliant production. The acting was top-notch, especially Sheila Francisco and Pinky Amador. Sheila is originally cast as Mattie Fae, and you really appreciate the depth of her acting when you consider she has to play two different roles, sometimes in one day. She intensely conveys a complex range of emotions from pain to anger, condescension, and resignation. Pinky is brilliant as  Barbara, perfectly balancing a struggling demeanor and wild abandon. My favorite scenes were the ones where both Sheila and Pinky completely lose it.

The Westons reunite after the disappearance of family patriarch Beverly

However, the story is the true gem of the production. The story revolves around the disappearance of Beverly, but sometimes this is overshadowed by the personal issues and drama of the Weston family. Each has their own story that at first it can be hard to follow. I often found myself thinking, “Oh, this girl is the one that his this problem, while this guy is the one who did this, and that guy is this.” But once you get the hang of the story and really pay attention, you’ll find how everything connects and appreciate how they can still stick to each other even if their lives are so different.

The cast of August: Osage County

The cast is rounded out by Tami Monsod (Ivy Weston), Liesl Batucan (Karen Weston), Leo Rialp (Beverly Weston), Kenneth Moraleda (Bill Fordham), Thea Gloria (Jean Fordham), Richard Cunanan (Charlie Aiken), Hans Eckstein (Steve Heidebrecht), Noel Rayos (Little Charles Aiken), Angeli Bayani (Johnna Monevata, understudy is Naths Everett), and Arnel Carrion (Sheriff Deon Gilbeau).

August: Osage County is directed by Chris Millado, a well-respected theater veteran and currently the Vice-President and Artistic Director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Sadly, the play is having its last week this week. Tickets are available at TicketWorld. August: Osage County is staged at Onstage, Greenbelt 1.
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